Monday, 9 July 2012

Official vandalism

This morning we enjoyed a delightful little walk along what must be one of the most beautiful stretches of towpath in the country. We watched bees foraging in the wild flowers, spotted rare wild orchids along the canal edge, laughed as our little grand-daughter scuffed delightedly through the long grass at the side of the path.
This afternoon it's all gone. The wild flowers, the orchids, the long grass. Gone. The mowers and strimmers of Fountains, offical contractors to British Waterways (and now one assumes the Canal and River Trust) have razed the lot. All that survives is an inch long stubble.
Walkers, cyclists, other boaters all bemoaned the folly and the sheer vandalism of wrecking this wonderful stretch of the natural world, destroying rarer species, making existence still harder for the bees and butterflies that have already suffered so badly this year. Even the contractors when we spoke to them thought it stupid. "It's not as if we are in a town," said one. "But we're just doing what we are told to do."
Since this photo they have returned and strimmed down the left hand verge too!
It was indeed an unspeakable, indefensible and ludicrous act of vandalism. Destroying wild orchids may even be a criminal offence. This is a country towpath; the blossoming verges are part of its beauty. Yes, keep the footway cut (though personally I'm not even much bothered by that - a rougher, more unkempt path might slow the mountain bike racers) but what suit wearing, office bound fool demanded the verges be flattened too.
I've already phoned to complain and will be putting my journalist's hat on to find out.
Meanwhile, my favourite stretch of towpath and the favourite of many others to judge by the memorial benches along its length has been desecrated and that sadness will linger.


Anonymous said...

I fought a similar battle with our Parks dept and the mowing of the golf course within the park. They bought new cuters so thought that everything that grew was fair game for the chop. After much argument over several years on details we now have a regime in place that mows the fairway as needed, trims occasionaly the rough and only twice a year the extreme edges and then at times pre prescribed as to benefit the wild plants and insects. Although it took some time I was surprised that once it had been pointed out the damage of the cutting and the benefits of having a mowing plan, jusy how well they accepted the also saved money

Carol said...

I agree with you completely. All those lovely and sometimes rare wild flowers will not now be able to seed and grow again - as you say it’s vandalism.
It’s like when they massacre the hawthorth hedges - the blossom only comes out on last year’s wood so they never get the chance to flower and provide berries for the birds - it really does make me very cross.

Mike, Mags, Poppy and Abbey said...

We experienced a similar act on the North Oxford. Moored with four other boats in a area some 5 miles or so from Braunston. In two days we only saw one walker on the towpath - We always know when someone walks past as the dogs growl - though to be fair it was raining.

Then the grass cutting crews turned up. The plants were soon decimated. A big large swathe cutter followed up by a strimmer. I challenged them not to cover the boat in clippings or to break any windows. The section of bank next to our boat was left alone. All the other boats were soon covered in wet grass clippings. There were some not very happy boat owners.

In Goole we had a window broken at the same time as the grass next to the boat was cut - though to be fair at the time we were not aboard so we can't be sure.

Mick n Mags